Santa Fe Arts District residents are looking for Mayor Michael Hancock’s support in getting upward of $6 million to make improvements along their corridor.
Community members herded Hancock up Santa Fe Drive on Friday pointing out how sidewalks were uneven and too narrow, traffic was unsafe and other issues with the area that attracts hundreds of visitors each month during the First Friday Art Walks. The district is hoping the mayor and Denver City Council recommends their project request get taxpayer dollars through the 2017 GO Bond process.
“What we’re trying to do is be in line for consideration for this next round of general obligation bonds allocations,” said Andrea Barela, president of the Santa Fe Business Improvement District. “We’re asking to narrow Santa Fe Drive to two lanes of traffic and in that process widen the sidewalks so we can accommodate the ton of foot traffic we get down here and make it safer for the business owners, the property owners and the visitors.”
Denver is set to authorize up to $600 million in general obligation bonds in 2017 to restore, replace and expand infrastructure and capital assets across the city. Hancock and the City Council will vote on what projects should get taxpayer dollars and city voters will ultimately decide in November whether to OK the funds.
If Santa Fe Drive is included on the bond ballot measure, Barela and others say they’d use the money to cut Santa Fe Drive from three lanes to two from Sixth Street to 14th Street. Also in their plans, is closing access east of Santa Fe on Ninth Street to add a pocket park. Street parking along the corridor would be staggered and reduced.
“This is something we’ve been working toward for a very long time,” Barela said. “We haven’t had street-level improvements since the early ’80s.”
Hancock said he’s familiar with the problems along Santa Fe Drive.
“My wife and I come down here for the First Fridays often,” he said. “As many of you may know, she also does her youth art competition down here, so we have tried to walk this area on more than one occasion — sometimes with 50 or 60 young people and their family members following us. So we understand.”
However, the mayor came short of pledging his support to the project. Councilman Lopez, on the other hand, said he’d do whatever it takes to make sure the corridor is represented.
“We’re in a good spot,” Lopez said. “My whole interest in being a city council member representing this side of town where I was born and raised in Denver is to say, ‘Don’t make us invisible. See us. And not just see us to tolerate us. See us to invest in us. See us to believe us. Give us the opportunity and that’s all we need.'”